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NBA Live has not fared well over the last few years. 2K Sport’s NBA 2K9 has been slam dunking it’s dominance all over the EA Sports title, and although NBA Live made way roads into 2K Sport’s dominance by delivering a much improved NBA Live 08, they have still struggled to convince the hardcore ballers that Live is the way to go. However, with the announcement of Dynamic DNA, EA Sports are really trying to deliver the winning shot and take back the crown of best basketball simulation.

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NBA Live 09 dumps you straight onto the thick of things with the NBA Live Academy – a luxury two court stadium providing an authentic training camp environment. Whether you want to knock down a few three pointers, or put away some rim rattling dunks the NBA Live Academy has a few purposes. First of all it serves as the starting point for your NBA Live experience where you can access the menus and all other game modes. Secondly, it actually is a training camp. Your team is there (depending on who you selected as your favourite team while booting up), as well as all of your coaching staff. Head over to one of the coaching staff and you can participate in some drills to improve your skills. Each coach has their own speciality and progressing through the drills will unlock more.

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NBA 365 and Dynamic DNA are the big new features for NBA Live 09. NBA seasons are a long and gruelling affair, consisting of 82 games before you even consider preseason matches and the playoffs. Throughout the season, players are going to go through hot and cold patches, face injuries, take on new roles and face a variety of challenges that may cause setbacks in their progress. This is where NBA 365 and Dynamic DNA step in. Each player in NBA Live 09 is given a DNA rating which will be updated on a daily basis once the season starts, thus reflecting what is currently happening in the NBA. If your star dynasty player decides in real life he wants to be traded and begins playing like he is back in high school, his sub par performances would be noted and his DNA ratings adjusted accordingly. Each players skills are broken into seven different categories such as post up, spot up, isolation and cuts. All are colour coded for quick reference, allowing you to scout other players tendencies and adjust your defensive approach accordingly. With the NBA preseason barely underway, it is a little early to say whether this addition is likely to pay off or not, but it would appear it has the potential to be a successful addition to the Live series.

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A few other new features are worth a mention here. The introduction of the FIBA Tournament featuring 24 countries was a bold move, one I have openly criticised already. The tall Blacks are currently ranked 14th in the world and their exclusion from this game mode is both a horrible oversight and disgusting insult from EA Sports. One which almost sealed the deal for me when considering which NBA game would grace the shelves of my game rack this year. however, I will give them the benefit of the doubt and assume we will make the cut next year. A neat new addition this year is the pick and roll control. One of the hardest plays to defend in basketball, the pick and roll has been implemented well, but almost to the point where it makes it too easy to score. The defence needs to be given additional options in this situation such as being able to fight through the screen or call a switch before the screen takes place.

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